ONLINE SEMINAR
September 22 | Herodotus and History: Telling Stories About the Past

Why do we want to know about what happened in the past? How sure can we be about what happened? And, how sure do we need to be?

The first great historian in the Western intellectual tradition, Herodotus sets out, he tells us, to relate not only what has happened in the past, but to give us an explanation of why. In the case of his great prose work The Histories, Herodotus enquires into the long history of enmity between the Persian empire and the city-states of the Greek mainland, starting in the 560s BCE and culminating in a massive Persian invasion of mainland Greece by the great King Xerxes in 480 BCE. Herodotus has a capacious sense of causation, and his history blends politics, morality, personal anecdote, geography, ethnographic research and comparative religion—all in the voice of a charming, open-minded and most-entertaining raconteur.

The invasion by Xerxes, and a prior attempt by his predecessor Darius ten years earlier, were momentous events in Greek history. Herodotus is our primary source for stories of the famous battle of Marathon, the heroic defense of Thermopylae by Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, and the great naval battles at Artemisium and Salamis. The Greco-Persian Wars described by Herodotus set in motion the forces that led to the long Peloponnesian Wars waged between Athens and Sparta later in the 5th century. We read Herodotus for the events he relates for us, and even more for the fundamental questions he raises about how we understand the forces that shape our world.

This four-week seminar will be read-as-we-go: we’ll read roughly one-quarter of The Histories each week.

When: Four weekly sessions on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern, starting September 22 .

Duration: 2hr 15m per session, with a short break mid-session

Cost: C$275 plus 13% HST (approx. US$195 plus 13% HST)

Group Size: 12-participant limit

How: We will be using Zoom online meeting software; you will receive instructions on how to download Zoom free after registration. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable. Select your registration below; please use the Toronto Pursuits credit option only if you are a registered participant of Toronto Pursuits 2020 who wants to put your deposit or previous payment toward an online seminar.

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Description

LEADER

Mark Cwik is the education manager for Classical Pursuits. He is a longtime Toronto Pursuits and trip leader and has been an organizer of adult great books discussion groups for 25 years. He specializes in literature from the ancient, mythic and religious world. He lives in London, England, where he leads seminars with the London Literary Salon.

READINGS

The Histories, by Herodotus; translated by Tom Holland, with introduction and notes by Paul Cartledge
(Penguin Classics, Deluxe Edition, 2015)
ISBN: 978-0143107545

This edition is recommended for ease of reference to the text during discussion.

Why do we want to know about what happened in the past? How sure can we be about what happened? And, how sure do we need to be?

The first great historian in the Western intellectual tradition, Herodotus sets out, he tells us, to relate not only what has happened in the past, but to give us an explanation of why. In the case of his great prose work The Histories, Herodotus enquires into the long history of enmity between the Persian empire and the city-states of the Greek mainland, starting in the 560s BCE and culminating in a massive Persian invasion of mainland Greece by the great King Xerxes in 480 BCE. Herodotus has a capacious sense of causation, and his history blends politics, morality, personal anecdote, geography, ethnographic research and comparative religion—all in the voice of a charming, open-minded and most-entertaining raconteur.

The invasion by Xerxes, and a prior attempt by his predecessor Darius ten years earlier, were momentous events in Greek history. Herodotus is our primary source for stories of the famous battle of Marathon, the heroic defense of Thermopylae by Leonidas and the 300 Spartans, and the great naval battles at Artemisium and Salamis. The Greco-Persian Wars that Herodotus describes set in motion the events that led to the long Peloponnesian Wars waged between Athens and Sparta later in the 5th century. We read Herodotus for the history he relates for us, and even more for the fundamental questions he raises about how we understand the forces that shape our world.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

 

Additional information

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Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit

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